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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cooler weather means feast or famine for anglers
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s level is up a little at 1,065.40, or 5.60 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the high 60s as Lake Sidney Lanier continues to turn over. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are stained-to-clear. The creeks and rivers are stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is pea green as lake turnover continues. Check generation schedules before heading to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass Fishing: Weather changes, lake stratification (turnover) and falling water temperatures can make for frustrating or fantastic bass fishing. 

If you look at the recent results of the BFL Regional on Lake Lanier, the top three anglers all did different things. This means you should pick your strengths, keep an open mind and go fishing.

Junk fishing is at its best right now. Keep several lures on the deck and be ready to adjust throughout the day. I like to have a big swim bait like a SPRO BBZ1 6-inch, then a follow-up bait like a Big Bites Finesse Worm in any green color on a Gamakatsu Alien Head. 

Also keep a Jig and crawfish imitating trailer like a Big Bites Fishing Frog. And last but not least, always keep a top-water ready at all times.

This week anglers are catching fish on a variety of lures and in different locations. If you prefer to fish main lake points and humps with moving lures, then give it a try because there are plenty of spotted bass roaming around and schooling on shad and herring. 

If you prefer to beat the banks and docks with jigs or worms, then you should also be able to catch a few.

It helps if you can get a hint of what the bass are eating. If you catch a keeper, they will often spit up their last meal, so you can see what they have been eating. I’ve recently caught bass that spit up threadfin shad, herring, gizzard shad and even crawfish.

There are plenty of schooling bass on main lake. For hardcore anglers, the best advice may be to get into the elements and wind, and cast bigger baits. 

The spotted bass are on the move chasing bait, and the bait will seek out areas where the water has more oxygen. If you find wind blowing on steep bluff walls, get out your jerk baits and work areas where the wind meets calmer back waters. Points, bluff walls, humps and creek banks may all hold bait and bass.

My all-around favorite lure this time of year is a SPRO McStick 110. Just about any color is good, but I like the Clear Chartreuse when it’s sunny or Chrome Shad when its cloudy or dark.

Cast them on 10-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon and reel them either slowly and steadily or impart a jerk-and-pause retrieve. The lures look just like the bigger shad and medium-sized herring these fish are eating right now,

Bass are also biting after dark. Work deep-diving crank baits around rocky banks in the mouths of creeks.

Striper fishing is up and down, just like the fish. You may find stripers schooling on the surface or eating bait in 50 feet of water. I rely on my Humminbird Electronics to show me where the fish are located.

Start out early throwing top-water plugs around the island and humps close to the creek and river channels. You can run and gun good areas while keeping an eye out for those small-to-big schools of stripers thrashing on the surface early, late and throughout the day.

A good plan has been to get out early and see where the stripers are schooling.

Run those areas with flat lines and planner boards rigged with herring or medium-sized gizzard shad on a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. You may need to switch to down lines if your electronics show fish deeper.

After dark, the night bite has been very good. McSticks or Long A Bombers have been working well both during the days and after dark. 

The stripers are showing up around the dam, in the main lake islands and even up-lake in the rivers. Make long casts to the bank and reel your Bombers and McSticks with a medium-steady retrieve. Lighted boat docks can also be fish magnets after dark this week.

Crappie fishing is very slow, but there are some fish showing up early, late and after dark. 

Find your coolest water in the coves and creeks, and choose water that has some stain to it. A slight amount of color to the water means it has more nutrients, plus the stained water will hold more bait and crappie.

Shooting crappie jigs tipped with a live minnow around deeper brush or docks in 20-to-25 feet of water with brush may produce a few slabs. Remember, if you catch one fish there should be more in the same area because the fish should be schooled up.

Trout fishing remains slow below Buford Dam due to the lake turnover and the under-oxygenated, stained water.

Fish up in the mountain rivers and streams. The recent rains have helped fishing, and the trout have responded well. Dry flies fished in the mornings and afternoons will work well where mayfly hatches are occurring.

Casting small bright- and dark-colored spinners will work well in the rapids. Cast a small Mepps or Rooster Tail wherever you see a rock blocking the current.

Bank Fishing: Take a kid or friend fishing. Some of my fondest fishing memories were when I fished from the banks. 

Anyone can fish from the banks, and I went brim fishing recently in the pond across the street and the fish were biting very well. I dug up some worms and took a small Aberdeen style hook with a small bobber and caught a bunch.

If you are blessed enough to encounter some great fishing action, it’s time to take a family member, friend or kid. I have shared my best areas and fishing secrets with people I barely knew, and it has never done me wrong. We anglers may have no idea how much a 3-pound bass or a 6-pound striper means to someone who has never caught a fish.

Give them a fish and they will eat for and day. Teach them to fish and they will eat for a lifetime.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at

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